Thursday, December 31, 2009
Meditation: As you stand on the threshold of a new year and contemplate all the possibilities that are contained in 2010, please consider the most important 'new year's resolution' you can make. We all probably want to take better care of ourselves; eat better, exercise more, etc. We all probably want to be better disciplined with our finances; save more, spend less on unnecessary stuff, etc. We need to treat those around us better. And our list could go on. But there is an area of life that is fundamental to the success of all these and more; your heart. I don't mean the muscle in your chest that pumps blood, but I mean the core of who you are; your heart. Where is the focus of your heart? To what are you fundamentally committed? In 2010 focus your heart, commit all that you are to pleasing, serving, and following God. Then you'll have the Spirit of God energizing you to set and accomplish 'resolutions' that really matter.
Prayer: God, today I give you my heart. I want to know you, love you, serve you, honor you, and speak of you with more boldness and commitment than I have in the past. I know you are searching for hearts committed to you. I want you to find mine in that condition.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Meditation: I believe a proof of God’s existence is that there are adults in this world. Everyone I talk to has stories of close calls in their childhood. People frequently wonder how they lived through their younger, careless lifestyles.
I remember visiting Yellowstone when the kids were young. Jeffrey was enamored with buffalo. He also liked to lead the way on our walks. On one particular walk, with him out in front leading the way, he turned a corner which put him just out of our view. He started yelling excitedly that there was a buffalo with him! I ran to catch up to him knowing the possible danger he could be in. Sure enough, there he was, far too close to the grazing buffalo family.
Another vacation, this time the Grand Canyon, Jeffrey again always led the way. On this trip, leading the way meant being the first to jump out of the car and being the first to make it to the edge of the canyon at each stop. There is not much for protection either; a double metal bar about two feet from the edge. Jeffrey quickly discovered he could see better by crawling through the bars to have his look over the edge. Sheri won’t return to the Grand Canyon because the memories are so full of the stress and fear she felt, caused by her youngest.
Growing up, I know I caused my parents stress on numerous occasions. I think of these stories now and wonder how often I have needlessly stressed my Heavenly Father as I have wandered away from His safe guidance to see what is around the corner or over the edge. It is reassuring that our God is ever faithful in His mercy toward us.
Prayer: Thank you God for your protection. We dare not imagine how our life would be had you not been watching over us in our times of foolishness. Help us to trust you, even in those times when we do get hurt, that it is not because you weren't there and certainly not because you don't care about us. Help us to remember that your love for us isn't proven by how pleasant our life is, but it is verified by what you have sacrificed so that we can have a perfect future with you. Remind us that these 'light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Meditation: When I was growing up, relatives all gathered around for my birthday parties. There were never fewer than two dozen! I remember the anticipation. Waking up early and then having nothing to do but wait the day away. You see, I never had to go to school on my birthday either! And no, I wasn’t born in the summer. I was just special. Special, with a family that loved me, kept me home from school, and had huge birthday parties!
As far as I was concerned, this was all done just for me. Never mind that our relatives gathered for everyone’s birthday. Never mind that there was no school because it was a holiday! You see I was born on Memorial Day. For those too young to remember, that was May 30th, before they got the wise idea to change all the holidays to a Monday. So every year, no matter the day, I was home from school on my birthday.
As I grew up I realized that my privileged feeling wasn’t because it all revolved around me. My perspective changed right along with other transformations taking place. If May 30th wasn’t a Monday, I no longer got the day off. My family began moving away and the party attendants decreased in number. But one thing never changed. I was part of a family that loved me.
As God’s child, I am fortunate to have another family that loves me too. My physical family loves me because of who I am. My spiritual family loves me because of whose I am. WOW! Perhaps I truly am special. And fortunate too! Thank you Jesus.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us a new birthday! Thank you for the spiritual family you have given me. Thank you for the price you had to pay to make this all possible. I know I need to grow up in your grace and holiness, even after all these years of being a Christian, I know I'm not yet all that you want me to be. Help me to keep learning your ways.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Meditation: We all have one: a mother. Regardless of our mother's 'mothering nature', we wouldn't be here without her. Mother's have a hard job, I know I made my mom's job more difficult than it should have been, but she managed to survive the ordeal. I am thankful for my mom. And I'm thankful for the other women, who have influenced ('mothered me' if you will) my life in very important ways. They all deserve our honor and respect.
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for giving me a mother on earth who loved me and trained me. Help me to honor her in a way that honors you. Father thank you for all those you have brought into my life that have nurtured and mentored me through the years. Help me to recognize that it was you who brought them into my life.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
It’s All Backwards!
In life I fill roles that bring along the expectation that I should be teaching, nurturing, and encouraging those around me. I’m the husband, the “man of the house”, the “spiritual leader”. I’m the dad, the parent. I’m the Sunday school teacher.
Yet in all these roles in my life, it flip flops and I become the student, I am the one being strengthened, challenged and encouraged. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my wife and kids. Time and time again God has used each of them to teach me of His character and love, about prayer, grace and forgiveness.
To share a recent example of the “turn of tables”, this fall I have been teaching in the nursery class on Sundays. People ask, how can you teach a zero year old about God, they are just babies. Maybe you can’t teach a zero year old, but they sure can teach and encourage a 45 year old. You find this out when you are sitting face to face, only inches apart, then they laugh, they smile, they giggle or ramble in “baby talk”. They communicate without words. Their expressions, their noises, their looks touch my heart and they show me the power, love and goodness of our heavenly father.
Some of the smallest/youngest members of our church family make an impact on me. Little ones like Michaela, Brock, Jenna, Wilson, Brayden, Lauren and Quinn. They don’t care if I sing a song off key or mess up the words. They just laugh and smile (usually). They share a twinkle in their eye and a look that can melt your heart.
Those who have children (little ones, grade schoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and young adults), I encourage you to soak it all in, take the time to sit back, watch and learn.
Whatever part you have in the family here, you can always love, teach and encourage whether you’re the oldest or the youngest, whether you’re a guy or gal. God can use anyone in any situation.
Do you ever feel it’s all backwards? I thank God it is!
I wonder who will be teaching me next……
Matt. 18:1-6 & Psalms 127:3-5
Prayer: Father, we have so much to learn. Our pride so often keeps us from learning the great lessons we need. Help us to humble ourselves to you. Help us to learn that it is often in the weakest, smallest, most insignificant (as we tend to measure things), that you use to show us the strongest, greatest, and most important truths of life. Help us to open our hearts and minds to you.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Meditation: I was adopted when I was an infant. I don’t recall a moment when I realized I was adopted; it was just something I knew. It was also something my parents celebrated. They made sure that I knew it didn’t make me less of their child but that I was a special part of the family just like my brothers and sisters were all special, unique parts of our family.
In reality, we are ALL adopted. God has adopted us into His family. Ephesians 1:4-6 says “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…” We did not come into God’s family by chance. He chose us. He searched for us and bought us at a great price. We are heirs to His kingdom. We are His children.
Blood is an important part of families as well. Now, for the first time ever I have someone who is related to me by blood in my new daughter, Addison. God adopted us through the blood of his son. To me, there is something special about families being formed not only by blood but by choice and by love. My parent’s chose me and chose to give me the privileges of being a part of their family. As people who have been adopted by God we should work to understand what it means to have the privilege of being adopted by God, of being a part of His family. That changes our identity. We have a place in the kingdom of heaven as heirs of the King. We have been adopted by the God of Creation.
Prayer: Abba, Father, you have loved us, not because of what we have done, but because it is your essence to love. The price you paid for us was staggering, and we know that we are not worthy of that precious gift. So all we can do is bow before your great love, and give our lives to you in return. Thank you for rescuing us, adopting us, and for making us to be a bride for your son.
Friday, December 25, 2009
“I really don’t have much of a story”
This summer on the mission trip I worked with a Baptist minister who shared his story with me. He then asked what my story is. I refrained from my “I don’t really have much of a story” line. I told him I had grown up with God. I’ve never known life without Him. I told him my parents and grandparents and great grandparents love God. AND I AM SO THANKFUL!
The truth of Psalm 103:17-18 came through loud and clear and I thank God for the blessings I have received and my children are receiving because of those in my family who have been faithful.
But from everlasting to everlasting
The Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
And his righteousness with their children’s children –
With those who keep his covenant and
remember to obey his precepts.
There is motivation in knowing we have a part in the blessing our descendants will receive. His love is with those who fear Him, His righteousness with their children’s children . It has been easier for me to make decisions, to keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts, based on what God wants from/for me because I have seen the fruit of living according to His will in the lives of those who have gone before me. I have been strengthened in unbearable times because I have seen His faithfulness when they have leaned on Him in unbearable times. I have seen the delight and joy of living in the freedom of obedience. The blessing of the self-discipline of commitment to His word is obvious to me. I have no doubt that God hears my prayers just as he does Grandma’s.
Oh, how I want His righteousness to be with my children’s children!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Meditation: New babies: There is nothing like it in the world. A time of mixed emotions; excitement and apprehension are just two of a myriad of feelings that come over new parents. But there is no doubt that there have ever been thoughts and feelings felt quite like those that Joseph and Mary must have felt when Jesus was born. There is no way they could have fully grasped what that new addition to their family was going to mean. And not just to them, but to the whole world.
There has never been another baby like Jesus, but still, every new life brings with it new hope for the future. The next time you're in the presence of a baby, look closely, with the eyes of faith, and imagine what that child might do for God. Then offer your prayer and blessing upon that child.
Prayer: God, we are amazed, that you would put so much potential into the most fragile of packages. Give us the courage and wisdom to guide these children in the ways you have chosen. Let us receive them into our lives as the treasure they are from you.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Meditation: Home for the Holidays; it is a powerful desire in us. We want to be in that special place where we know we're safe, loved; the place we belong. And there's nothing wrong with that. And I hope that is where you will be this year. But we need to remember there is a place even better than being home, and that is wherever God is.
Prayer: Father, help us to really believe that one day in your courts is better than a thousand days anywhere else we could imagine. Help us to live as citizens of heaven.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Meditation: My Daddy! When I think about my daddy and who he was, these things came to mind: he was a hard worker, he was trustworthy, honest, and funny, he was the story teller of the family, and he was very content.
He was content with what he had. He made "enough" money to spend time with his family; he was always at all of our ball games, we went on vacations every summer, we always went to church together, and he liked the "home' he and my mom made. He would rather be there than anywhere else. He always had the biggest and best garden since I can remember. He loved sharing it with everyone. It gave him such joy to give someone tomatoes, peppers, squash, potatoes, or whatever was in season. He and my mom would can beans, squash relish, salsa, jelly and give it away - oh the joy he got by sharing it all.
I can remember asking him on his birthday or Christmas, “What do you want?” He'd say, “Nothing; don't' get me anything.” Well I finally started listening throughout the year to the things he would talk about. One year when we lived in New Jersey we took him to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. He loved baseball and really enjoyed going there. (That also made my day; I was so happy to see the pleasure he got in going there.) Another year John and the boy's took him to The Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He loved that probably most of all because he got to go with John, Chad and Kyle. It made his day when we would just call to say hello and I love you. It's not the ‘stuff’ we remember, it's the experiences and times together.
I just wanted to remind us all to make a memory with the ones you love. I really don't think any of us need more stuff but we do need to feel loved and cherished! I know I felt that by my daddy and I believe he felt that way by me.
-Leisa WheelerPrayer: Father, I confess that the worlds stuff has too strong of a hold on me. I need help letting go. Teach me to value relationships and people more than things. Help me to store up true treasures in heaven rather than trying to accumulate more things here.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Meditation: It is so hard for us to not define reality by what we see happening to us today. The 'Hall of the Faithful' contains the list of those who lived in the moment, but weren't held hostage by it. They were able to see reality as that which God was unfolding beyond the edges of their physical vision. Faith sees the future that God has prepared for us.
Prayer: God you are the hero of our souls. Thank you for giving us examples of faith to imitate. Help us to be able to see with the eyes of faith what you are doing in our lives, and to know what you have prepared for us in the future. Remind us that we weren't made for what we see here on this earth.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Meditation: It is said that, "talk is cheap", sometimes talk can even be counter-productive! There are some people in our lives, who's hearts are not open to the message of the gospel. The temptation sometimes is just to talk longer or louder, but God understands that this will just result in their heels being dug in even deeper against the truth. But what if... what if instead of preaching the gospel, we model the gospel? To our children, our spouses, or anyone else with a heart closed to the gospel, let us learn to live before them in a spirit of love, service and humility.
Prayer: Thank you God for not pushing us too hard to accept you. Thank you for showing us your love and inviting us to come to you. Help us to show the same wisdom toward those we love. Teach us to show the power of the gospel in our daily lives so that people will see your love for them and be drawn to you.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Meditation: Division has always been one of our greatest threats. When we are divided, Satan wins. But when we are unified in God's love and will, then Satan has no power over us.
Prayer: You Lord, are One. Help us to be one with each other, in spirit, love and purpose of living. Help us to understand the power that comes from being unified.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Meditation: Some of us come from big families, some of us from small families, some may even be an only child. Whatever the make-up of our family, large or small, God intends us to be blessed in our families. We all know that sometimes our physical families haven't lived up to God's intentions, and that is why he has become our Father and has given us a spiritual family in which we find the true spiritual blessings God want to give us.
Prayer: Thank you for blessing us with our families. Father, help us to become in our families what you intended when you brought us together. Thank you for our spiritual family. Being a part of your family has enriched our lives more than we ever thought possible, thank you.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Meditation: Ever been to Moe's Southwest Grill? If you haven't you should go, and not just for the food. When you walk in the door, the entire staff, yells out, "Welcome to Moe's!" It's a great experience being greeting like that. That should be the same feeling we each get when we come together as a family. To be welcomed with an enthusiastic greeting that communicates love and acceptance is so important in a world that is too self-absorbed and competitive to even notice you most of the time. We need to learn to give that kind of greeting to each other, all the time.
Prayer: Father, thank you for noticing me, accepting me, and loving me. Help me to communicate that same attention and love when I see my family. Help me to greet them with genuine enthusiasm and love.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Meditation: How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. (Eph. 1:3-6 The Message)
Twenty-one years ago on Oct 3rd at 5:15pm we received a phone call that would forever change our lives. A call that let us know that our baby girl was ready for us. We were about to adopt a stranger into our family. She was never a stranger though. The love for her began years before when we turned our thoughts to having children. We just didn't know the time or path to that phone call. We've had a few foster babies in our care over the past several years and while we cared for and loved them like our own, they were not ours; they hadn't been adopted by us. We have been adopted by God in accordance with His pleasure and will. WE are His children, we ARE His children, we are His CHILDREN!!
Prayer: Thank you God love loving us. Thank you for adopting us as your Children. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Meditation: Priorities can get so skewed in life that we end up wasting our energies on things that seem so important to us, and in fact, in many ways are important, yet they are not of ultimate importance. There is only one thing of ultimate importance: following God. Don't get confused about your priorities.
Prayer: God, you are a God of order. We see that in creation, we see it in your plan to redeem us in your Son's sacrifice, and we see it in your church. Help us to order our lives around your order. Protect us from the confusion that Satan would inject into our lives that would cause us to drift away from your power.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Meditation: As parents we all want good things for our children. But too often we define "good" in terms of affluence, prestige, and comfort. God defines "good" differently.
Prayer: Father, help us to seek the good as you define them. Help us to lead our children to love and serve you. Help us Father, to then get out of the way and let them serve you in the ways that You have set for them.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Meditation: Being married is hard. It requires adjustments, submission, and sacrifice. Marriage is filled with stress, problems, and trouble. The failure rate of marriages is very high; too high. But marriage is the most amazing relationship that God has given us. Where else has God invited us to be most like Him? It is in marriage, in the union of two lives, where we get to share the same kind of intimacy that God shares in the God-head. It is in marriage that we get to share the creative power of God in bringing life into this world.
Regardless of how many times, or how many different ways Satan attacks marriages, it is worth it, it is worth fighting for.
Live the love that God gives you to the fullest, in submissive sacrifice.
Prayer: God, you are the author of Love. You have given us marriage. Help us to honor you in it. Help us to support and defend every marriage against whatever or whoever would oppose and attack it.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Meditation: At the earliest, when we were small children, our parents tried to teach us to share. It wasn't just so that we wouldn't fight or argue (although I'm sure our parents appreciated the peace). Sharing is more than just making sure everyone had some, enough... sharing expresses our connection to each other; the fact that we belong, not just to God, but to each other.
Prayer: Thank you Father, for adding me to your family. Help me to live as if I really belong here.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Meditation: An arrow allows a warrior to strike beyond his reach. When God gives us children, it allows our influence to extend beyond our own personal actions. Have you thanked God for your children (or the children of your local church family)? Are you preparing them to serve God beyond your house?
Prayer: Father, thank you for the children you've given me, and those who are part of our church family. Help me to do my part to prepare them for your service.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Meditation: Every day most of us see people who are less fortunate than ourselves. The homeless and unemployed stand on corners asking for help. There are many others who aren't so visible or dramatic; widows, orphans, the elderly, sick, and even those in prison. We are challenged in God's word to show our religion through compassion and kindness. God has always been the champion of the disenfranchised of society. Being a part of his family should move us to reach out to those who are on the 'outside' looking in.
Prayer: God you have always been the champion of the powerless, you have used your great power to lift up and protect us in our weakness, and we praise your name for it. Help us Father to show our devotion by imitating you in regards to those we meet who are truly in need.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Meditation: A period of my life led me down a lonely road of depression years ago.
Loneliness. Depression. Fear. These are cruel taskmasters of the soul, slave-drivers that try to rob us of our hope and joy. They turn our focus inward, pulling a dark curtain over our eyes so we can’t see God’s love for us.
But there is good news today! God wants to break through the dark clouds and restore our sense of joy and purpose in life. How do we know this is true? In the Psalms we are given an intimate look into King David’s heart. He often faced loneliness, depression, and fear—but he also found God’s abundant victory:
For You, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling,
That I may walk before the Lord
In the land of the living (Psalm 116:8-9).
God can deliver us as well! Hold on to the promises of His Word. I did and it brought me through some of the darkest storms in my life.
-Jack PattersonPrayer: Father, you don't always protect me from harm, but help me to trust that you will always protect me in the midst of harm. Let me learn how to walk with you, even when the ground under me has fallen away.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Meditation: Children are a gift from God, to be given back to God in His service.
Prayer: Father, remind us that 'our' children are really not ours, but your gifts to us, and we are really only stewards of that gift. Help us to raise them to love you and to serve you.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Meditation: In the ancient world, Fathers would give a blessing to their children. The blessing consisted of meaningful touch, words of affirmation, a positive future, and a commitment to their children. Today children need to be blessed by their parents in the same way. Many adults however have missed out on that blessing. But it is never too late to receive a blessing from our Heavenly Father. It is also never too late to give the blessing to your children.
(For a great resource, read Smalley's & Trent's "The Blessing")
Prayer: Father, I know that you have a plan for my life that is greater than anything I can imagine. Help me to trust in your love and desire for me. Help me to show my love to those around me so that I can be a blessing to them.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Meditation: Thanks, Mom and Dad
I will forever be grateful to my wonderful parents, Lex and Vera, for teaching me about God and His precious son Jesus. Not only did they take us to church and Bible classes, but their positive examples, through both words and actions, were constantly present. I remember many lessons I learned from them about faith and total dependence on God, but one that stands out in my mind occurred when I was eleven years old. I was young enough to be naive and insulated from the struggles of life, but old enough to comprehend reality. We lived in southern Illinois and my dad and his older brother had a very successful home improvement business. It was a great time to be alive. My family had a nice house in the country. I had a new bike, loving parents, a wonderful older sister, a new baby brother, and a dog I loved almost as much as my sister.
My parents would have many of their private talks early in the morning around the breakfast table while they thought their children were still fast asleep. Many mornings I would awaken early and just lie in bed listening to them. I never really tried to comprehend what they were saying; I just loved to hear them talk to each other. I always knew when something different was going on because there was much more conversation than normal. It seemed that Mom and Dad had been talking a lot lately, but I thought it might be because we had a new baby in the house.
It was October 1960. My dad and mom, who held my one month old baby brother, gathered my sister and me into the living room and said they had something to tell us. They shared that Dad’s business was not doing well because the local coal mines were shutting down. His business would be closing and we were going to move to Arkansas where Dad was going to work for a company where he had previously been employed. My sister and I were crushed. Our friends, our schools, our church—we’d be leaving them all! Over the next few weeks, I saw one of our cars and our house being sold. Every item of my mom’s furniture was auctioned to the highest bidder. When it was all said and done, we had a car, each other, and my parents’ trust and faith in God. We headed off to Arkansas where we would get a new start.
One of the first places we went was to church. Every time the doors were open, we were there. The next years were difficult for my parents, but my sister and I didn’t know it. Only when I became an adult with children of my own did I truly understand the great difficulties my parents had to contend with. Their love, commitment, and faith in God never wavered. During the good and the hard times, they made us feel safe and loved and gave us all they possibly could. Most of all, they instilled their love, commitment, and faith for God in us. I will forever be thankful and call my parents blessed for what they have done for me, my children, and my grandchildren.
Parents- teach your children about God and His precious Son; take your kids to church and Bible classes; teach them with words; be positive examples; and generations will be blessed by your faithfulness.............. Joshua 24:15
-Bill DismangPrayer: God of creation, you are a God of purpose, planning, and priorities. Teach us to give ourselves over to your purpose and to order our lives around your priorities. I want to understand you word and live by it. Help me to pass these on to my children and families.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Meditation: Our earthly relationships will never be spiritually healthy until we understand that we have died to Christ and begin living a resurrected life in Christ.
Prayer: God, You are the resurrection and the life. I too often try to live life in the flesh, rather than through the spiritual resurrection that you have given me through your son.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Meditation: I don’t recall the exact context of the Bible lesson that branded itself in my memory. The message, however, etched itself on my heart, and when my faith is flailing, it is this lesson I return to for strength.
God calls me to remember what He has done for me. I haves such a short memory, and often forget the many ways He walks beside me and even carries me through my day-to-day life.
Earlier this year, my mom developed some abdominal pain. Given her health history, this event concerned me. Over the next few days, the pain worsened, prompting an early morning emergency room visit. After testing, the doctor determined her intestines were likely twisted, and told me that they could untwist or worsen and block her intestine. He said it would likely take a few days to resolve itself – one way or the other. I was worried.
While watching my mom in such extreme pain, I asked God to heal her. I prayed, “God I believe you can heal her. Please help my unbelief.” I prayed without ceasing for the remainder of the time in the emergency room, and on our way home. Later that day, miraculously, the pain in my mom’s abdomen abated.
I believe God healed my mom to help her, but to also strengthen my faith that day. I know that not all my prayers will be resolved with such a positive outcome, but this event served as a powerful reminder that God has my mom and me in His care continually. And when my faith needs a little boost, I remember the events of that day.
“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6
Prayer: God of Heaven & Earth, we pray, but sometimes we confess, we're just going through the motions. Please open our eyes to see when you answer our prayers. So we will know that prayer isn't just an exercise, but an expression of our dynamic relationship with you.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Every morning I walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” and yet “I fear no evil”. God is with me; his promise and love comfort me.
Family: Yes, family is involved in that.
I go to the nursing home every morning to feed Judy, my wife of nearly 50 years. She was diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s Disease in 1998 at age 57. She has been confined to a nursing home for almost 7 years now. Most of the residents of the home are so near to the end of their lives I feel the valley of the shadow of death applies.
During the process of Judy progressing from early onset to full blown Alzheimer’s the motivation to pray and the way I went about it changed considerably. We were so blessed that both Judy and I are totally confident in our relationship with God and that some day we will be with him that that was not something I would pray about or for; only thanksgiving for that blessing. As God took little pieces and parts of my Judy to be with him and she lost more and more of herself in this place, that confidence was and is such a comfort to me and our family.
The biggest change in the way I prayed came in the area of control. During the long process leading up to her leaving home it became more and more obvious and humbling that I had no control at all and my only option, my only option, was to turn it totally over to God. I don’t know that my prayers could ever be more basic than that. My prayer became, “Thank you, Lord, for your saving grace.”
It continues to be that and the things that at one time were so important to me have faded and my prayers center mostly on people, members of my family, including mostly, my church family. God has blessed me with praying daughters and sons in law and for that I am grateful.
Prayer: God, we sometimes forget that life here won't always go the way we desire. It frustrates us, and too often fills us with fear. We are afraid of what might happen to us or those we love. Help us to learn to trust you when what we hate to imagine has happened. Remind us that nothing on this earth can defeat us when we walk with you.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Meditation: The last words of scripture speak about the role of John the Baptist and his mission to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. It is interesting to note that his mission is described as turning the hearts of the father's toward their children, and the children's hearts to their fathers. It seems that a culture without Christ is marked by a breakdown in the family, and that when Christ is the center of our life, then family is restored to it's proper place in our lives. Where is your heart turned?
Prayer: Father, we are privileged beyond words that we can call you father. Help us to show you true honor by how we treat our children and parents that you have given us.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Meditation: There is nothing greater than love. It's what binds us together as families. It's what allows us to 'tolerate' or even better, 'forgive' each other. It's what gives us assurance of a future together.
Prayer: Father God, to be loved by you is is the greatest thing in the world. Thank you also for the loving people you have brought into my life. Help me to become a more loving person to those you have brought into my life.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Meditation: Wisdom: we are all, each of of us, born with none. Sometimes it is thought that wisdom comes from experience, but actually wisdom comes from experience that is understood in the light of God's word. God expects us to honor our parents and to learn from their experience. But in time, while we should never stop honoring our parents, God expects us to learn wisdom from Him.
Prayer: Thank you God for my family, for what I have learned from my parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, and others you have brought into my life. Help me to continue to learn your wisdom, so that I can lead others to know you as I have come to know you.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Meditation: Sometimes we get frustrated with people, and wonder why they can't be more like us. But aren't you glad that everyone ISN'T just like you. God has made each of us different, gifted each of us differently, but loves us all just the same.
Prayer: God of every good and perfect gift that comes from above. Help me to recognize the value in our differences as your family. Help me to understand the synergy that is at work in your Spirit's gifts to us; that together we can accomplish more than we each could working alone.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Meditation: Several years ago, Susan and I were searching for a congregation where we could work and worship. We had looked at several other congregations before looking at University, but University felt like family after only a few visits. One young married couple took us into their lives. Several other families followed, giving us love and a sense of belonging. Some of the elders and their wives agonized with us over our son’s problem and gave us godly advice and prayers. Susan and I found useful roles in this family. We had been accepted into a real family that faithfully follows Romans 12:15-16. Our UCOC family shows Godly characteristics in that they really care as our Father cares. This came home to me when Susan went to be with the Father. You wept with me at my loss; you rejoiced with me that Susan was free from pain and suffering. The great number of church members who were at the memorial service impressed Susan’s family, who were used to small, just family funerals. I tried to make them understand that this was a family gathering. My UCC family still watches over me and checks up on me to be sure I am all right. The great number of prayers they have offered for me has helped tremendously.
Prayer: Father, we thank you that when you saved us, you added us to a family. We know that our faith wouldn't be nearly as strong if we were alone. Help us to grow in our appreciation and participation in your church. Help us to be someone others can count on for love and support.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Meditation: Today is "Black Friday", a day when too many of are busy hunting for the best deals we can find on stuff. In the midst of the rush, did you notice the people at the busy intersections who have little or nothing? Every day is a 'black' day for them, but for completely different reasons. The best deal they are going to get just may come from you, if you're willing to show them a little compassion.
Prayer: Father of mercies, you have shown great compassion to us in our crippled condition, help us to show the same compassion and kindness to those we see around us. Help us to open our eyes to actually see them, and not just rush by in a hurry.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Meditation: Today as we enjoy a great feast with our friends and families, let us remember how generous God has been with us. Let us then be imitators of God and be generous toward others with the things God has given us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your grace that we have received at such a great cost to you. Thank you for the material blessings that we have received from you. Help us to be gracious and generous toward others on the same basis and measure.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Meditation: Families are knit together by their stories. What binds God's Family together is His Story. Are you so familiar with God's Story that it has become the foundation of your own story?
Prayer: God in Heaven, you are the Word that existed in the very begining, that became flesh and lived and walked among us. Please open my heart and mind, to know you. Give me the dedication and discipline to open the pages of scripture and read and meditate on your Story. And most importantly, Father, give me the courage to live it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Meditation: Recently in the UYG (University Youth Group), we’ve been talking about the names of God. One that we looked at was “Abba”, which means “Father”, or a closer translation would be “Daddy”. That night in class we talked about how cool it is that we can call God our “Daddy”. He is LORD, King, Creator, and all those other things…but He’s also our Daddy.
Over the last month or so, I have spent considerable time just sitting in my chair holding my brand new little girl and staring at her face. Obviously, the idea of calling God my “Daddy” has changed enormously over that time. I cannot wait until I can hear Addison call out to me and call me “Daddy”. I can’t wait to tickle her and amongst her laughs and giggles hear her call me “Daddy”. I can’t wait to come home from the office and be greeted by her running up to me with her arms open yelling “Daddy!” and just swoop her up into my arms while I hug and kiss her.
And then I think of Mark 14:36. Jesus is in the garden, about to go to the cross, and He falls down and cries out to Abba to take this cup from Him. To hear His Son call out to Him, “Daddy! Don’t make me do this”, must have been so hard to listen to. When Addie cries out to me and begs for her Daddy to come rescue her, you better know that nothing is going to stand in my way of coming in and saving her. So what love must our Abba have for us that He listened to His Son call out to Him, and yet still allowed Him to die on the cross for us. Your Abba loves you so much!
-Josh JonesPrayer: Almighty God, Creator of heaven & earth, You are known as Elohim, Adonai, El Shaddai, and Yahweh. You have been our provider, watcher, banner, and shield. You are a Consuming Fire and a gentle breeze. You are God Most High, yet you have invited us to call you Daddy - Abba. We love you for all that you are, but most of all that you are our Father.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Meditation: Is there any greater status in this world than to be a child of God? I think not.
Prayer: Father, thank you so much for enabling me to become you child. Help me to trust you fully as my Father, knowing that you know me and what I need better than I do, and that your desire for me is more healthy than even my own desires. Help me to live up to the name you have given me.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
In the days of Noah, God sent rain on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights so He could prepare the world for a new beginning.
Moses stayed 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the Law that would transform fleeing slaves into the mighty nation of Israel.
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness praying and fasting before choosing the 12 disciples thus beginning his public ministry and the work that would change the world forever.
Why God has chosen 40 days for preparing His people to do great things is unknown, but itcan’t be ignored.
In the next 40 days starting tomorrow, I would like to challenge you to set aside some time each day when you can spend time with God in prayer, scripture reading and reflection. You can do this alone, or if you haven’t been already, start praying together as a family.
For the next 40 Days, we will be reminded that we are indeed a ‘community of believers’ as our vision statement here at University declares. But more than just a simple community, we’re part of a family.
Through readings, meditations, and prayer, this Family prayer time will lead us into a closer walk with God and with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The last 40 days of 2009 can be a powerfully moving experience for us. We each have different experiences with our earthly family; some good, some not so. Regardless, be thankful in every circumstance. And if possible, and if needful, strengthen the bonds that have grown weak in your relationships.
God is interested in families. The last words of the Old Testament look forward to the ministry of John the Baptist (figured as Elijah) who would be preparing the people for the coming Messiah. Listen to how God pictures his ministry:
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:5-6).
Are you ‘turned’ toward your family? Turn to God in prayer in these 40 days, and let God turn your heart in greater ways toward your parents, children, spouse, and your brothers and sisters in Christ.
(Each day, starting tomorrow, I will post that day's reading and prayer meditation. I hope you will be blessed in your participation. -John Wheeler)